Question:

I scanned through the topics on your web site about drinking, but I still have a question about I Timothy 3:8. I'm not trying to argue that drinking is OK or trying to reword the Scripture to allow it. I do like a beer with a meal on occasion, but I don't support alcoholism and drunkenness in any way. I don't want anything in my life holding me or my family back from the reward of heaven. In I Timothy 3, requirements for elders and deacons are outlined. I found it interesting that deacons are told to be "not given to much wine." I know this wouldn't be a reference to grape juice, because it would make participation in the Lord's supper impossible for elders who are told to be "not given to wine" in Titus 1:7 (KJV). You may have answered this question already on your web site and I may have overlooked it. I'd like to know your thoughts on the meaning of these verses and why they are worded this way. Knowledge of the original Hebrew might shed light on it for me, but I'm not familiar with it.


Answer:

The article "New Testament Beverages" gives the details of most of the Greek terms in the New Testament.

In regards to the qualifications of deacons, the phrase is "not given to much wine" in the New King James Version. In Greek it is me oino pollo prosechontas. "Given" is too mild of a translation for prosechontas. The word means: paying attention, giving heed to, guarding, watching, devoting oneself to, or attached to. Being addicted to much wine, as it is translated in the New American Standard Bible, or indulging in much wine, as translated in the New International Version, better captures the meaning. A deacon is not to be a man whom alcohol plays a dominate role in his life.

However, it would be a mistake to assume this is permission for casual use. We can only take it for what is said: an addict cannot be a deacon. For anything thing else, we must look at other passages of the Bible to see how much, if any alcohol, was tolerated in a Christian's life.

The Greek phrase me paraoinon found in I Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 is discussed at the end of New Testament Beverages.